I started freelance blogging a little over a year ago. I launched my first blog a year ago. And, in that time, I have learned A LOT. I started my blogging journey kind of on a whim. As someone who hates expressing feelings and emotions out loud, writing them down just felt easier. So, I started writing for Elite Daily, Forever Twenty Somethings, and Brunches of Boston. Each of these gave me the freedom to create different kinds of content and for the first time in a while, I really enjoyed what I was doing. Fast forward a few months and I wanted something that was my own. Contributing content is great, but I have control issues and needed a creative outlet that was completely my own.
In October 2016, I launched my blog Hustle + Soul. I started off with some momentum and uploaded content at least once a week. But, the holidays came around and then followed a winter slump, so my content hit a major lull. Finding motivation was nearly impossible and I was drained from whining about how much I hated my full-time job. Ironically, hating my full-time job was a contributing factor in becoming a blogger, but that’s a story for another day. I couldn’t get myself to sit down and blog about anything. Then, I was comparing my blog to all the thousands of other bloggers out there. So, after roughly 30 posts in a year that I’m not 100% happy with, I have learned a lot and am ready to hit refresh.
I’m no where close to being an expert blogger, but I’ve learned the essentials. Here are 11 things I learned my first year of blogging.
1. Plan your content.
I had a plan to make a content plan, but I never actually followed through. Every time I would sit down to work on it I just felt overwhelmed. In my mind, I was thinking I had to plan, like, a year of content in one day. Sounds absurd, I know, and that’s because it is. I realized that I’m not the kind of person that can plan long term. I change my mind a lot, I get new ideas, and I’m constantly mixing up my content. So, that being said, I can only plan my content about 30 days out. Having a smaller window to plan is much more manageable. Whether you’re planning a week, a month, or 6 months out, having some kind of idea of what your posts will be about is key. To download your own content planning page, click here.
2. Make a schedule.
Each week, dedicate specific days to different tasks. For example, Mondays I plan out my week with specifics. Tuesday and Wednesdays I write. Thursdays I edit. Sundays I make do a run-through on the text and photographs and set a publishing date. You may be thinking, what about photos/etc. and to be honest, I have to do those whenever I feel like it. If I’m not motivated, I won’t do it and then my whole post is pushed back. So, when I’m feeling fun and creative, I take a bunch of stock photos in the future. If I need something specific, I’ll just make sure I get it done before my publishing date.
3. Create your own content.
It’s easy to use other people’s free stock images or to take a photo from Google, but don’t rely on that. It’s easy to spot a blog that’s using other people’s images and it’s even worse if it’s a viral photo that a lot of people have in their Instagram or blog posts. Put in a little extra work to create your own content or, at the bare minimum, try and add something to make it your own and cater it to your theme.
4. Be patient.
You won’t be an overnight success. It’s frustrating to see these bloggers with 1+ million followers and loads of engagements when you’re struggling just to get a handful. Though some of them did get lucky with quick success, a lot of them have been working for YEARS to achieve that kind of following. Keep going, do your research, and you’ll get there.
5. Share, share, share, and share some more.
What’s the point in blogging if you don’t share your content? Share when content goes live and share it again later. Not every day, but when it’s relevant. If you’re not willing to share your content then how do you expect someone else to?
6. Cut yourself some slack.
Contrary to how all the previous Bachelor contestants make it seem, blogging is hard. Writing, editing, planning, scheduling, photographing, and then editing again definitely isn’t a breeze. Unless you have a team ready to help you in all aspects of your blog, expect to put in a lot of hours. If you fall a little behind on a deadline or get into a rut for a couple weeks, cut yourself some slack. We’re all human and life happens.
I CANNOT stress this enough. Edit your posts. There’s nothing worse than reading someone’s blog and noticing multiple spelling or grammatical errors that should have been easily caught.
8. Stay consistent.
Use the same kinds of font, filters, and tone across your blog and social media. It’s easier for people to recognize your brand and it’s just generally more aesthetically appealing.
9. Find your voice.
Be true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not in your posts because people will pick up on it. The reason a lot of bloggers are successful is because they’re posting authentic, organic content.
10. It’s a learning process.
I may have learned a lot in the past year, but I don’t know nearly as much as I want to. There’s so much content about blogging floating around the internet that you should be constantly learning new tools and tricks to take your own content to the next level.
11. Don’t compare your blog to someone else’s.
Just don’t do it. You’ll never be happy with yours if you do.